Too Good to be True

Well, we knew it wouldn’t last. She needs money and if her favourite ATM won’t give it to her, she’s going to stop letting the kids go to sports until she gets what she wants. She sent her message through Nolan last night. He’s 10 and said to Curtis that ‘Mom said you owe her money and she’s going to stop the sports thing if you don’t pay her tomorrow.’ The thing is… we don’t actually owe her money. She wants more in child support and, technically, she has to go to court to get that. She’s threatening court now, and we might beat her to the punch after how she’s crossed the line. We put this verbiage in the agreement about how the parent will not have adult conversations with the kids or use the kids to communicate a parenting issue, but she just ignores the agreement. I can’t even imagine the effect this is having on Nolan. The very thought makes me feel sick. How can she be ok with putting that poor kid in the middle of this? Just let him be a kid. Don’t punish him to get a couple hundred dollars from your ex. It makes my heart hurt so much. I had no idea. He didn’t say anything to me. I shared my prize for the hat he helped me make (for the contest at my recital)… I let him stay up to watch his hockey team in the playoffs… he made his own strawberries… I thought he was good, but Curtis said it was like he was waiting to tell him, said he wanted him to know. It all makes me sad. I’m hoping it means he understands how much it means to Curtis for the kids to go to sports and how hard he tries… it all sucks…

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The award-winning hat that Nolan helped me make.

So here’s the thing… how can we protect them if she ignores a court order? How can even a judge enforce that if she just doesn’t care what it says? She ignores it all… She ignores the fact that is clearly states that sports are an outstanding issue and tries to bully us into doing it her way, she ignores the fact that she can’t change doctor’s appointments without Curtis’ permission, she ignores the fact that he’s allowed to talk to doctors and goes so far as to remove his name from the kids’ files, she ignores the fact that she’s supposed to turn over the kids birth certificates and the fact that she’s not supposed to bad mouth him to the kids, she takes the kids to the US without telling him… and she’s ignoring the fact that the agreement does not call for them to review child support every year, it just says that this is the amount to be paid. Well, the agreement is about as good as toilet paper as she will continue to do what she wants, no matter the damage done to those kids. So what are we to do? We’ve said we’re ready to go to court… but what can a judge do? Can someone make her do the right thing, or just obey the court order? We’ve been afraid of the emotional cost paid by the kids as she tries to exact her revenge on Curtis, but she’s already doing it… How do we know when the good outweighs the bad? Curtis is so angry at her right now, he’s ready to take a stand. We are ready to take a stand.

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A Step-mom Navigating Mother’s Day

This really felt like my first Mother’s Day. When I got home from work on Friday, Reegan gave me a gift he made for me at school. When I booked lunch for my mom, he told me to say there were two mothers, and when he planned a Mother’s Day meal with his mom, he meant that to be for me, too. We ended up arguing about it and that’s how I found out, but certainly the intention is there. I really didn’t understand that they would celebrate me… a step-mom is its own unique thing and I know I’m not their mom, I know my role is unique. My gift from Reegan

The kids woke me up this morning with home-made cards, and I love them. Can I wake up that way every day? Lol.


Today, the boys went to be with their mom, as they should. Reegan ran back into the house so he could show his mom the gift he gave me. He ran back to find his coat, without the gift. When Curtis asked him, he said his teacher didn’t know he needed two. She kept it. Part of me feels bad for her, how awful to find out that your son gave your Mother’s Day gift to his step-mom, and part of me is furious at her for putting him in the middle. Of course I’m sad, that was my first Mother’s Day gift, I was going to hang that baby in a place of honour. I was so proud of it… poor kid must have felt so awkward. Curtis said he took it out of his backpack and said he made it for me. It must be hard to be a kid with two families. 

I worry about what she is going to say, I worry about the fight we caused. Will she stop taking the kids to sports, will she keep all of Curtis’ Father’s Day gifts for her husband? Will she make us out to be the a-holes who stole her gift? Or will the taking of the gift and what it represents be enough? 

I am not their mother. I am my own special person in their life. I am secure enough in myself as a person and in my role in their life to understand that. And to feel bad for everyone involved in this – her, Reegan, Curtis for having to see that, myself. Shared custody is a hard thing for everyone. And on the other hand… that woman stole my first Mother’s Day gift. 

A big week, even when our life is never dull

It was a big week in our house. I have zero idea what prompted the change… but BM let the kids go to baseball this week on her days and took them to soccer on her days. O.M.F.G. WOOOOOO! Curtis thinks she wants something, his mom thinks she needs a break from the boys, I wonder if she knows we were planning to take them to soccer and this was the way to stop us… who knows the reason. In that way, it was a great week. I’m making friends with the other moms and not being treated as the “step-mom”. It’s good.

In less good news, rumour has it that BM is moving the next street over from us. Neither Curtis, nor I, are comfortable with that proximity (he’s ready to move right now), but I’m willing to give it a chance, because in some ways it would be so good if it could work. They’d be close enough that the kids could always play with their friends. That itself gives me the willies because we’re friends with their parents and that’ll be weird… but his cousin sometimes comes over and plays and we make that work… I’m trying to be positive. In a ‘get your own darn life’ way. I’m just shocked. She is so insistent that we have separate lives, why on earth would she want to live a 2-minute walk from us? Our life is never boring. that is for sure. There are other concerns… I’m not sure how they can afford that house, given that’s it’s way more than ours was and I’m pretty sure we make more than they do (but that’s not my business). The only real concern I have is that BM is going around laughing about how she is going to take us for more money when she’s on mat leave. I don’t want to pay her giant mortgage at the expense of being able to afford our own house. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

So… it’s Mother’s Day… I should have been announcing my pregnancy this weekend. Instead, a very good friend of mine just told me she’s 6 weeks along (SO HAPPY FOR HER!)… But that makes me a bit sad. And my sister-in-law is down, which always stresses me out. Work is really stressful, and I’m still crazy exhausted as my body recovers from the miscarriage. This has led to some arguments, which reminded me that Curtis is a real jerk when in an argument. In a very weird way, some good came from it. In the way he hurled at me the fact that Nolan called me his step-mom specifically to hurt me, he both referred to the fact that we are going to try for another child and the fact that they kids have Mother’s Day plans totally in ways to make me feel like an a-hole. It worked, I feel like an a-hole… and I’m also angry he used those against me… but there is good there.

I feel so tired and emotional and I’m not sure how much of it is the miscarriage and how much is just how freaking busy we are or even how much is “Mother’s Day” when you’re a step-mom and not a mother. It’s funny, it’s only me who is acting like I’m not a mom. His mom, the kids, Curtis, they all act like I’m a mom (of some kind, anyway). He even said that he wasn’t sure why I felt like I wasn’t a mom. When they asked me how many mothers for the brunch we’re going to, he told me to say 2… I guess it’s only me who doesn’t feel like one. Even my chiropractor gave me Mother’s Day flowers. I mean, I’m sure my own mother doesn’t think I am. On the other hand… I’m tired, overwhelmed, and all I want for Mother’s Day is to get some sleep (so in that way I feel like a mom), but when they have a real mom… I dunno. Something for me to work on, I guess. We all need things to work on.

A post about loss

This post is about infant loss and may be TMI for some people, but I hope it can help even one person not feel alone. 

When I realized I missed my period, I was terrified. Curtis wasn’t entirely on board with the idea of more kids, although we had made progress on that front. I picked up a pregnancy test and I finally told him that I was late and he took it really well. The test was positive and he could not have been more lovely about it. I was over the moon. We were so happy, it felt like the answer. I felt pregnant, but wasn’t too sick. It was a wonderful time for us. We were planning for our family, all of our family. 
About 6 weeks in, I had some spotting so my doctor told me to come in and have an ultrasound. The spotting was over before I even had the ultrasound. About a week later, my doctor called and said they couldn’t find a heartbeat, I had to have another ultrasound. He called me with those results and told me it was an unviable pregnancy. My baby stopped growing at 6 weeks, 4 days and had no heartbeat. He told me it could take a few weeks but my body would probably work it out on its own. He told me it was best for my body and for trying again if it did it on its own.

And so began one of the hardest two week periods I have even been through. My vision of our happy family was gone with our baby. 

The morning after I found out about our baby, I went to NYC with two of my friends. I wasn’t sure I was going to tell them because I didn’t want to ruin the weekend. They were also supportive and lovely. And it was a bit of a damper on the trip, I noticed I was tired and not myself. I barely took any pictures. I had some red spotting and walked around terrified, waiting for my uterus to explode. It didn’t. But everywhere we went, I had an exit strategy, where was the bathroom, where were my pads and wipes, where were my friends… I had a pad for the bed and my travel medical card and googled hospitals… it was stressful.

When I got back, I took a day off. I was convinced it would happen. It didn’t. So I went back to work, stocked with pads and wipes. At every little thing I went to the ladies room… was that a cramp or just gas, did I feel something? Am I bleeding? I wasn’t. It was pretty gross, but always a false alarm. So we kept going, family parties, baseball games, where’s the bathroom, do I have my pads and wipes, is this starting, will I be bleeding, will I need to go to the hospital, what’s my exit plan? Wash, rinse, repeat. Every day. Everywhere we went. For two weeks. 

I saw Curtis’ therapist because infant loss is something she deals with. It was nice to have someone listen and explain some things to me. I also hope it will help her understand us better so she can keep helping him. Eventually I stopped feeling pregnant, which was a blessing and a curse. I trying to move on, but still no miscarriage.

I did all the things you’re not supposed to do when pregnant or at risk for miscarriage. Exercise, wine, anti-inflammatories, hot yoga, cinnamon… no miscarriage.

I had what was supposed to be my “1st Prenatal appointment” and my doctor sent me for one more ultrasound so they could determine what to do. I had mostly come to terms with what had happened. I know it’s not my fault, I know that Curtis has an increased risk. I understand all of that. I just really needed it to be done. I couldn’t move on. I carried the burden of my morbid dead baby any longer. I was stressed and scared all the time. I was constantly worried about it happening at a bad time. I was just stuck. Half pregnant with a dead baby. It was awful.

I went for my ultrasound and, surprisingly, he told me that it hadn’t passed. I mean, I knew that, but I was surprised and relieved he would tell me that. He did an internal ultrasound to get a better look and by the time I got home, I was definitely cramping. I made dinner and by the time we got home from baseball, it was much worse. We read to the kids and I grabbed a heating pad. The cramps were bad, but not as bad as I expected. I had heard horror stories. Some increased spotting, but still nothing.

At 3:30 this morning, I woke up, and ran to the bathroom. It came. I felt it when it passed. I felt something leave my uterus. It was weird. And then… I just felt better. The full feeling in my stomach passed. The cramps stopped. And I felt sad. Surprisingly sad. Like maybe there had been the smallest chance it would have been ok, even though I knew it wasn’t. 

I took the day off today. I’m ok. I’m sad, but I’m ok. Before we got the results of my 2nd ultrasound I asked Curtis if my pregnancy made him feel any differently about having kids with me. Despite how great he was about everything, he said no, he was still not saying no, but not saying yes to trying again. Before I left for NYC, he stopped me and hugged me and said we could try again. And that has helped me get through this. If you have followed me, you know that is something we struggled with. This was not our fault, and there’s no reason we can’t try again, now that this is finally over. And maybe something wonderful came out something so difficult. We are going to be ok. I put the kids on the bus this morning and I’ll be here when they get home. I still have my family, and we’ll try again for a baby. If it doesn’t happen for us, I can live with that, as long as we try and are in this together. We will be ok. 

If I learned anything, it’s that I don’t need to be so afraid… except maybe of the internal ultrasound because that was finally the straw. You can be completely careful and these things can happen and you can do all the things you’re not supposed to and it still won’t happen until it’s good and ready. 

We Step-Moms Have to Stick Together

I joined a few “Step-Mom” groups on Facebook and that’s been really nice for me. While I agree with one particular poster that sometimes it’s a little too sunshine and rainbows for those of us in the trenches, I find it really helpful to hear other step-moms with the same issues as me. Today one talked about feeling like an outsider and, while it’s MUCH better than it was, I still can’t help but feel like that sometimes. Especially when you want to be a mother yourself, as she said. So true. On the other hand, it’s also nice not to wallow in the mud. Nothing good comes out of dwelling on negative feelings.

Our situation hasn’t changed, really. BM (as they call her) is her awesome, cheerful self, demanding money and not compromising with sports. We still haven’t heard back from our lawyer (which is definitely frustrating) so the worst of that is still to come… stressful times. We are also pretty sure our child support offset payment is going up so we have to figure out how to pay for that. My father-in-law is still in the hospital after complications from his kidney transplant and that’s really brought our family together. For the most part, I’ve managed to keep any petty feelings at bay. It’s been good for us. My back went up when his sister started asking for pictures again (which I HATE), but I’m going to send it today. Other than that, it’s been good. Curtis has been lovely and supportive and things are better as we go through a lot together. I’m really hopeful that we have turned a corner and things will be good for us. Karma has to have our back eventually, right?

My favourite part of the weekend was when I found an app that lets you photoshop the Easter Bunny into a photo. I added him to a photo of our kitchen and then sent it to Nolan (SS10) – I should probably go back and make all of these without names – saying that he “stole Katrina’s phone”. The boys were really excited about that, although Taitum was surprised the Easter Bunny was so big, he thought he was little. It was a fun Easter with the kids, for sure. I already miss them since they’re with their mother today. With everything going on, I wish they were there today.

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Off to NYC in a couple of days with friends for a much-needed getaway. I’m wishing a little now I had chosen a trip with Curtis instead of the girls, but I couldn’t have known where we would be now. Just have to enjoy the time, enjoy the friendship, enjoy the theatre… And breathe.

 

It’s Family First and Family Last and Family By-and-By

It’s been an eventful few weeks in our house, being topped off this weekend with Curtis’ dad getting the call for his kidney transplant. It was already a crazy, crazy weekend. Another two hockey tournaments (one B winner and one A runner-up) and a practice, the fireman’s breakfast, two hockey parties, laundry, taking the ice rink down, taking the Christmas light down, grocery shopping, plus we brought our dog to his new home (all on top of Curtis being on call). When we got the call, we finished Nolan’s hockey game and arranged for the kids to stay at the neighbour’s house for a sleepover, got coverage for Curtis’ on-call shift, and off to the hospital we went. His sister came the next day to stay the night. I’m happy to say that the surgery went well, and Gary is recovering very well. We made cards for him to put up in his room and brought the kids to see him last night (with a stop at the movies after to see the movie that Reegan wanted to see this weekend). Actually, we got it all done except taking the kids to see Curtis play hockey on Sunday morning. It amazes me how much we can accomplish together. I always get the impression that they don’t have the crazy runaround life with their mom and I sometimes wonder which they prefer. I never ask, but I wonder. Do they like all the stuff we do?

Normally, that much family stuff stresses me out. I’ve been super snappy about Easter with my mom because it’s so hard for me to deal with. And my mom is really hard for me to deal with. And I have to admit I had my (internal) catty moments, but fewer than I expected. I have a lot of my own stuff going on now , but we really managed to pull together. That’s the thing about family, you come together when things get rough. I may have warped feelings on family sometimes, but that’s what you do. What’s funny to me is how his family keeps thanking me… I don’t need a thank you, that’s just what you do. Gary is family so there was no question where’d we be. It’s one of those things that makes you see how they really don’t see me as family.

The highlight of my weekend was my bonding time with Reegan. I wouldn’t say he’s my favourite, but we have our own special relationship. It causes me problems when we go grocery shopping because I always buy too much because of him, but it means a lot to me. Worth the sunglasses he talked us into. lol. He even came home in the car with me last night after the movie. These little moments are the things that makes everything worth it. He chose to come with me. All the stuff with their mom (and with her mom this weekend, apparently it’s genetic), all the craziness… it’s all worth it, when Reegan asks me to read to him.

No kids tonight… off to the gym. Gotta find a way to keep up with them somehow 😉

Well, there goes my social life

I spent the last year trying to balance being both a step-mom and a stage manager, having a family and having a theatre group to be a part of… well, that group decided to fold, so I no longer require that balance. And I find myself dreading not having an outlet, not having my own thing, not really making my own friends… the theatre holds the key to my identity, my self-image, in many ways my self-esteem, my passion, my circle of friends… I feel sad. At times I felt like a bad parent for putting all of that first. At times I felt like it made me a better parent because I felt better about myself, more like myself. It is the thing that makes me who I am. And I also feel sad that being their step-mom doesn’t make me who I am. It’s shaped me in ways I don’t think I’ll ever fully realize or understand… but the theatre… the theatre is a part of me as much as I am a part of it. I’ll find a new place to land. Until then, I will take a well-earned break and hope for good things. 

Looking for Baggage that Goes with Mine

A bit of a personal post instead of being about the kids… a good friend of mine ended up in a similar situation to where I am – her boyfriend has kids and some ex baggage but, instead of more kids being the issue, it is buying a house together (instead of her paying him rent) and getting married that was tearing them apart. She was ready to walk away and he was ready to let her. And my heart broke for her because I understand the feeling of having to be able to fight for the things you need in this world and I admired her courage for being willing to sacrifice everything to get there. I was also grateful that Curtis is willing to admit to and to try and work on his issues. And then a funny thing happened, faced with the thought of losing her… he changed his mind and they are going to look for a house to buy together and build their life together. Just like that… and I thought to myself… Yes, Curtis is trying to work on things (for which I am eternally grateful), but when I was ready to walk away and he was ready to let me… Losing me wasn’t enough to change his mind. And, on the other hand, she also gives me hope that my happy ending isn’t totally lost. It could still happen for me, too. He is working on his ex baggage. Sometimes the good ones will step up and make the right choice. 

March Break

Well, the kids have gone to their mom’s for the rest of the break. It’s funny, we had them for 8 days and it definitely feels too short, like we wasted it somehow. I know I didn’t appreciate it and the house feels empty now that they’re gone. And it was stressful at times, Curtis and I didn’t have any real time together at all and our relationship is hurting because of that. We need to find better balance for ourselves.  All I hope is that the kids had fun. And even that they have fun on whatever expensive adventure their mom is taking them on. It’s not a competition. We had a fun week of hockey, a birthday party, baking, crafts, experiments, swimming, skating, and play dates. It was a little stressful that we both had to take time off because my mother-in-law hurt her back, but better in the long run because the kids had some real, fun, quality time with Curtis. And that’s worth everything. We rolled with everything, including a flat tire, where Taitum and I made funny faces and listened to music. 

After the kids left, we went to see the lawyer. We found out we have very little legal recourse to make her take them to their sports and that the amount Curtis has to pay her will end up increasing significantly when she goes on mat leave (with the baby she’s having with the man she left him for… life is cruel). I think Curtis left discouraged by the meeting. It is what I expected. This ongoing battle will continue. We have 5 days to think about it before the kids come home and hopefully we’ll find some clarity on how to move forward.

A New Perspective

I haven’t posted much lately. I don’t want to be a Negative Nancy when being a step-mom is such a great thing. Things with his ex are increasingly difficult and I don’t want this to be a daily rant on how I think his ex is a horrible person. That’s as unproductive as it is boring to read.

I had an interesting weekend, which, unfortunately, ended with me losing my patience with the kids. Our hockey weekend was pretty normal, 4 games and 2 practices. Taitum didn’t end up playing hockey because he was still sick. That was a tough choice because he REEEEEEALLLLLYY wanted to play. Curtis eventually had to tell him he got the week off because of his tournament because he was determined to play. (So much for the theory that they don’t like hockey). We all went to watch Nolan’s early-morning game and the ex’s sister was at the arena. She started talking to Reegan and said that her son was supposed to play Nolan’s team last week but Nolan wasn’t there. Reegan looked at her and said, ‘oh yeah, because we were with our mom’. This is her sister. I couldn’t hide the look on my face, so I’m glad she didn’t look at me. I wonder what she thought of that. We signed the kids up for summer sports and for hockey next year and I toed the company line. I never lied, but I expressed that we hope they’ll be able to play more than half the time and I also hope they’ll get the opportunity to play travel (which will be limited if they can’t make it every other week). I hope at least one person sees the truth of what is going on. And I hope that we can make it work so the kids can go.

Sunday Curtis was sick with the same illness that took down the kids. Really sick. Couldn’t get out of bed sick. I just want to express my appreciation for single parents, and for how well Curtis handled everything when I was out entire days for the show. I took all 3 kids to Reegan’s practice to give Curtis some peace and quiet. Now, I think I caused some of my own problems by telling them they could have a treat at the arena, but it got them in the car and us to the arena early. We were the first ones ready to go out on the ice and they were mostly pretty good while we were there. It all went downhill when Nolan bought chips and they had sharing issues. Then we went to get gravol for Curtis and they all wanted junk. When we got home, they all jumped out of the car, leaving all the hockey gear and such in the car, and it was the last straw, I lost my patience with them. I think it all ended up ok. I didn’t lose my mind on them or anything, but Curtis (in his sick state) was a little like ‘whoa… what just happened here’. He even managed to drag his sick butt upstairs and take the reins during bath time when they all climbed in the bathtub and it ended in tears. I appreciated his firm hand there.

You know… I got it all done. Laundry, dinner, lunches, hockey practice. I was completely wiped, but I got it all done. I realized, though, that I take for granted how hands-on Curtis is and how much he is able to handle on his own. Nothing but respect for all those single parents out there. I’ve glibly said that I would be able to do it, and I probably would if I had to, but I don’t know that I would fare so well with 3 kids as a single parent. I’m still exhausted today. It was an eye-opening weekend. I’m very grateful that Curtis is such a great, hands-on dad… and I will learn not to take single-parenting so lightly.